Snowshoe WV’s Fire on the Mountain Regional is on the Radar

Hi Everyone,

As stated in the header, the Annual Fire on the Mountain Regional Cookoff is now on the radar for ICS cooks. After a couple of years’ deviation, in 2014 the cookoff is back to its historical 2nd weekend in July – Salsa & Verde Friday July 11th; Traditional Red Saturday July 12th.

The date is not the only change for this year. If you go to the cookoff’s listing on the ICS website, you will note that the organizers have listened/implemented many of the recommendations from cooks during the past few years.

Perhaps the most significant, was the recommendation that the nearly $7000 in prize money be more evenly distributed among all the events. That is now a fact.

Closely following, was the recommendation to explore making available some reasonably priced lodging for the cooks.

The Inn at Snowshoe (bottom of the mountain; roughly 6 miles) for $56.50 per night including Continental Breakfast, certainly qualifies. For those just wanting a place to sleep, the Ravenswood Complex at $100 per stay of up to 4 nights for a no-frills 3 bedroom, 1 bath, no A/C (at 5,000 ft., no A/C is seldom a hardship…even in July) is a bargain; there are also other ones listed on the website - the point being: cooks recommended, organizers listened.  

I think it is fair to say that Fire on the Mountain is not only one of the most cooks-centric/friendly cookoffs around, but is also a premier event that’s been around for what seems like forever. More important, it is a cookoff that like a fine wine continues to improve over the years…and when it comes to Snowshoe Mountain itself; it is nearly impossible to describe the improvements over the years, unless you’re prepared to write something the length of War and Peace.

And as I am writing this, it reminded me that not too long ago one of our regular Florida cooks mentioned to me that he was thinking about perhaps doing Snowshoe this year. What could I tell him about it?

I essentially told him the previous; and he then followed up with a question about the level of the cooks, and how have their winners done at the WCCC? I said that I had always thought they did pretty well, but that was just an impression; no facts to back it up…but I promised to look into it, and get back to him.

I did. And since I found my “conclusions” kind of interesting, I thought I’d share them here since IMHO they apply beyond Fire on the Mountain. Insert appropriate lawyer written caveats about a product here.

As we all know from experience, a whole assortment of factors play a role on how anyone does at any chili cookoff (with luck being one); therefore way too much to even attempt to analyze them all. So I chose (settled) as my metric for excellence, making the Finals Tables at the WCCC; and to give it some modicum of constancy, it had to be over some period of time…I chose five years.

I went back and researched the past five years’ results at Fire on the Mountain, as to how the winners had fared vis-à-vis making Finals Tables at the WCCC. From 2009 through 2013, the cookoff had had eight (8) Finals Table cooks at the World, (which included one Verde World Champion); the breakout was as follows

  • Red    – 4 Finals Tables – 09, 10, 11, 13
  • Verde – 2 Finals Tables – 11, 13 (World Champion)
  • Salsa – 2 Finals Tables – 12, 13

OK, that seems good; but how does it fit in the big picture? To set a baseline, I decided to use data provided in the ICS News Pepper about the 2013 WCCC; and according to that source, we had the following participation:

  • Red – 132 cooks
  • Verde – 124 cooks
  • Salsa – 109 cooks

With the following number of 2013 Finals Table Cooks

  • Red – 28 cooks
  • Verde – 28 cooks
  • Salsa – 24 cooks

Having judged WCCC for the past five years (and longer), my memory is that the number of Red Finals Table cooks has stayed pretty consistent at around 28, with Verde and Salsa more around 24 (28 in Verde for 2013 was a new high in my memory). I therefore used a combination of these numbers, to arrive at a five year total of Finals Table cooks in each category

Recognizing that the numbers of WCCC qualifier cookoffs have increased year-over-year; for the analysis, I made the assumption that 2009 had 15% less qualifier cookoffs than 2013 in each category. I did an average of the computed 2009 numbers, and the 2013 numbers; then multiplied that average by 5, to arrive at 5 year totals of cooks for each category.

I won’t go through the math; if someone wants it, send me an email and I’ll forward it. That said, the resulting numbers that I came up with are as follows:

  • During the past five years; based on law of averages per my calculations, a “normal cookoff” – as compared to Last Chance – would have had 1.14 Red cooks make the Finals Table at the WCCC
    • Last Chance would have had 11.40 cooks make the Finals Table over the same five years
    • For Verde, same cookoff would have had 1.08 cooks make the Finals Table
    • For Salsa, same cookoff would have had 1.19 cooks make the Finals Table

Now to Fire on the Mountain Finals Tables for the past five years:

  • 4 Red cooks; or 351.00% of average – 3.51 times better
  • 2 Verde cooks; or 185.00% of average – 1.85 times better
  • 2 Salsa cooks; or 168.04% of average – 1.68 times better

Thus from the above numbers (based on the assumptions made to get them), they indicate that my hunch was correct. To wit: Snowshoe winners have acquitted themselves quite well at the World…at least in the past five years.

Well, enough of this. As I mentioned, I found the Finals Table probability numbers rather interesting; if someone thinks I’m way off, please let me know and I’ll be happy to discuss & learn.

And to close, let me get back to the initial intents behind this posting.

These intents were to:

  1. Remind Fire on the Mountain regular cooks that it’s time to start thinking about it
  2. Recommend that they check the ICS website for the changes implemented resulting from their recommendations
  3. Encourage cooks who have never cooked Snowshoe, or those who haven’t done so for a while, to give it a thought and come join the fun.

Looking forward to seeing many of you there,

Sergei Kowalchik

Chief Judge…or as Fire on the Mountain calls it: “Head Chili” 


Hello Chili Cooks and Friends!

Thank you so very much for joining Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for our 5th Annual Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cookoff and BrewFest held last Saturday, June 14, 2014.  While the morning started off a bit chilly, once the stoves were lit, the event really heated up!  We welcomed 50 ICS Cooks, with 21 competing in Salsa, 25 competing in Verde and 38 competing in Red!    The crowd was great, bands were rocking, 12 Brewers, 40+ Vendors, 8 Restaurant Competitors and a handful of Community Cooks made for one fun event!

The accomplishments of our event weekend would not have happened without you… our Cooks.  You make this event and we appreciate that you return year after year and for spreading the word so that we may welcome new cooks each year as well.

Recognition of first-time ICS Members that competed with us:

  • Ibte Khilji – Chilianna Jones and the Temple of Boom from Pennsylvania
  • Dave Kovalchick – Red Baron’s Revenge from Pennsylvania
  • Tom Polivka – Tequila Mockingbird from Virginia

Here is a recap of the Winners:

3rd Place:  Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
2nd Place:  Pinky’s Country Kitchen
1st Place:  Fabrizi’s
Prize:  Plaque & One Night Nemacolin Stay with $100 Resort Amenity Credit

3rd Place:  Bobby Cart
2nd Place:  Kathy Stenger
1st Place:  Faith George
Prize:  Plaque, $200 Nemacolin Gift Card & Cooking With Beef Cookbook

Prize:  $200 Nemacolin Gift Card

3rd Place:  Trailer Trash Chili
2nd Place:  Bulldozer Smoke Stack
1st Place:  Matt Levy
Prize:  Plaque and Two-Night Nemacolin Stay with Dinner for Two and $200 Resort Amenity Credit


3rd Place:  Christine Johnson -  Sneaky Pete’s (Plaque & $50)
2nd Place:  Rick Sievering– Starboard Galley (Plaque & $100)
1st Place:  Jen Violette – (Advancement to World’s Championship, Plaque & $250)


3rd Place:  Ian McDaid – Burning Ring of Fire ( Plaque & $100)
2nd Place: 
Cindy Lorenz – Not My Husband’s Chili (Plaque & $250)
1st Place:  Matt Levy – (Advancement to World’s Championship, Plaque, & $500)


5th Place:  Jim Neves– Onion Head Chili
4th Place: 
Jack Cowell
3rd Place: 
Kit Hoff – Leprechaun Chili (Plaque & $250)
2nd Place: 
Scott Tucker – Mother Tucker’s Chili (Plaque & $500)
1st Place: 
Joe Harter – Joe’s JetLag Chili (Advancement to World’s Championship, Plaque & $2,000)

Congratulations to all of our Winners!  A special thank you to Ghon and Kim Eckley for joining us again as our Chief Judge and Scorekeeper, Diane and Larry Lentz for volunteering their time as Wranglers and again, to all of you for spending your weekend with us. 100% of People’s Choice proceeds benefitted the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department.

Photos of the Event will be posted on Nemacolin Woodlands Resort’s Facebook Page:

If you have any feedback, please feel free to email me, individually, to share.

Thank you and Happy Cooking!

Ashli Mazer
Director of Marketing and PR
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort 


The West Virginia State Cookoff in Huntington, WV has been moved ahead one week - new date this year is now September 6, 2014.  Please mark your calendar!


After a few thunderstorms that moved through the area on Friday night, Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful. It was pleasantly warm, with a breeze to keep things from getting too hot. From the judges’ tent, we could have done with a bit less breeze, as we did have to chase some paperwork around a bit! Spotty Dog Rescue was there with some of their adoptable dogs, who were all very well-behaved. I wonder who they liked best in the People’s (or Puppies’) Choice category?

We would like to thank Nicci Cammack and Rich Marsh, the cook-off organizers for once again doing a wonderful job of putting together one of the nicest cookoffs in the area. Also, thanks to Mario and Alison Saccoccio for their help all day long. And to the judges, cooks, volunteers, sponsors, and the crowd that came out to taste the chili, we thank you, as well, for helping make this a successful cookoff for everyone.

The winners were:

People’s Choice: Lou Pascuzzi

Best Booth: Penne Childs


4th: (tie, not broken) Linda McGrath and Steve Stark

3rd: Judi Omerza

2nd: Dave Ronge

1st: Jerry Buma


5th: Jerry Buma

4th: Mike Freedman

3rd: Darrell Dunnum

2nd: Michael Lesperances (10 pts)

1st: Les Cropley, Jr. (20 pts)


5th: Isaiah Frechette

4th: Michael Lesperance

3rd: Linda McGrath

2nd: Mike Merola

1st: Judi Omerza

Not only did Les Cropley have a decisive win in Verde, but this win gives him his first trip to the World Championships. Congratulations to all of the winners, and we will see you at the WCCC.

Mary Alice Kropp, Scorekeeper

Website Update Will Take Some Time

I have had several emails and phone calls in regards to Cookoff listings and memberships that apparently disappeared from the website. Please be patient with me, it seems when maintenance was done on our website that it was restored to an earlier date, which means I have some updating to do to get it back to where it should be. Please, if you find something not listed that once was, call or email me and I will be sure to update. Those new members who signed up after April 1 are no longer in the system and will have to be manually added again. This will be time consuming and take up much of my time but hope to keep up with everyday things as well.  Your patience is really appreciated!



Hello chili cooks,

We are looking for cooks for Red Chili, Chile Verde and Salsa for the Sangamon County Fair Regional Cookoff Saturday, June 21st in New Berlin, Illinois.  We are at the same location within the fairgrounds but will be under the Miller Beer Tent so you will not need your tent/canopy.  With at least 10 entries in Verde and Salsa, we can send three cooks to the World Championship this Fall.  Registration is open on the ICS website.   To enter the fairgrounds withoutpaying the $20 entry fee, you must PRE-REGISTER.  All Grandstand shows are included with your entrance to the fair.  Feel free to contact my wife or me with questions.  Hope to see you there.

Lloyd & Brenda Weir

Home:  309-452-0294

Cell:     309-212-6289


Presented by Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Saturday, August 2, 2014

There is less than two months left until we all once again get together for a fun-filled day at the races, cooking chili and enjoying being with all of our friends!  Once again the winners of Red & Verde will be invited to the World Open Chili Championship in Vegas Nov 14-16, 2014.

Adding to the festivities of the day is the 2nd annual credit union chili challenge sponsored by XDI with even more entries than last year.  This is a great addition to the overall event attracting an even larger public crowd to taste chili.

There will be more information regarding the exact location of the cookoff site once all of the logistics are finalized with the track.  However, you should be able to park much closer than ever before making it easier to enter and depart the park.  Stay tuned for further details!

As a reminder, a 40” TV will be awarded to one lucky cook.  A drawing will be held to determine the winner.  One ticket will be given to each red and verde cook plus cooks serving people’s choice only.  Participating ICS cooks bringing in a new cook will receive one extra ticket and so will the new cook.

Please sign up at - For additional information, please contact Red Brecke, Chairman 858-674-0840 or Mike Stewart, Vice-Chairman 909-796-4122  We hope to see you all there!

Tonight was the culmination of months of hard work by so many people, especially the ICS Chili Cooks and our sponsors.
Kat and I were at the Somers (CT) FD where we gave them a check for $8,317.48. Patriot Guard Riders CT also received the same amount.
To date,in five years, the New England Regional Chili Cook Off has awarded over $120,000 each to these two non profits.

May 2, 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of the NERCC. Please plan on joining us.
Sincere thanks,
Kat and Michael Freedman 

(Source: chilicookoff, via chilicookoff)


The weather for the 2 day Flagstaff Chili Festival is looking great this year. Temperatures in the low 80’s, wind at 18 mph, so make sure to bring those weights for the tents that the city requires. If you still have to take the food handlers test, remember to bring the voucher, that will be the proof you took the course. Cooks dinner on Friday night at Granny’s Closet Restaurant. Fire down south is under control, no more smoke. Safe journey, see you in the Arizona high country!


Largest event yet, with over 100 cooks and vendors participating in cause

Farmington, PA (June 5, 2014) – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is once again hosting the Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cookoff and BrewFest on Saturday, June 14th from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department.  Designated as a Regional Cookoff by the (ICS) International Chili Society, the Mountain Madness event will welcome cooks from across the country as they compete in Red, Verde and Salsa categories.  In its fifth year as an annual event, Nemacolin has registered the largest volume of competing ICS cooks, community competitors, local area restaurants, breweries and craft vendors.

“We are well over 100 cooks and vendors this year,” said Ashli Mazer, Director of Marketing at Nemacolin. “We began this event in 2010 as a community benefit event for the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department.  Over the past five years, the event continues to grow in support and participation and we have contributed nearly $25,000 to the Fire Department,” added Mazer.

Although the cookoff is the highlight of the event, Mountain Madness will also include a BrewFest featuring local and regional breweries, a craft fair, family adventure activities, live entertainment by the Ginger Beards and Lovebettie and Celebrity Judges including Pittsburgh Steelers Brett Keisel, Cameron Heyward and David DeCastro.

The traditional “Lighting of the Stoves” marks the start of the official competition as cooks from throughout the United States compete for cash prizes as well as vying for the opportunity to advance to the World’s Championship.  Local residents are invited to test their culinary skills in the Community Cookoff held in conjunction with this event. Festivities will also include a Restaurant Division in which local chefs and businesses can compete for prizes and more importantly, bragging rights.  In addition to the Chili Cookoff and tastings, guests can enjoy a wide array of activities throughout the day.

The Five Alarm Mountain Madness Festival will be centered near the resort’s Sundial Lodge.  Guests may take advantage of the resort’s Adventure Center activities with the purchase of a specially priced All-Access Pass, $25.00 for Adults and $10.00 for Children (ages 12 & under).  The resort will also offer special discount pricing on their newest amenity, the 3,000 foot Fatbird SuperFlyer dueling zip line.  Admission to the Five Alarm Mountain Madness Festival is free of charge. Chili Tasting Kits are available for $5.00 with all proceeds being donated to the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department and $20.00 for BrewFest Tasting Kits, which include the Chili Tasting Kit.  A portion of Brewfest revenues and various raffles throughout the day will also benefit the Fire Department.  

For more information or to register for the Community and Restaurant Cookoffs, please contact a Resort Sales Specialist at 800.422.2736.  For a complete schedule of the day’s events, visit

#  #  #

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Nemacolin is one of North America’s premier resort destinations. Situated on nearly 2,000 acres, Nemacolin features 318 luxurious guestrooms, suites, townhouses and private luxury homes, including the AAA Five-Diamond, Falling Rock boutique hotel. In addition to the internationally acclaimed Woodlands Spa, the resort offers 36 holes of golf on two championship courses - the Pete Dye designed Mystic Rock and the traditional Links Course.  Outdoor enthusiasts should visit our 30-station Shooting Academy, a sporting clays facility situated on 140 acres complete with a spacious lodge.  Trail rides are available at the Equestrian Center, or for a more rugged trail experience, there’s the JEEP® Off-Road Driving Academy. Guests can test their luck at our Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, featuring approximately 600 slots and 28 table games. As the seasons change, the Sundial Lodge kicks into high gear offering downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and for an unexpected winter experience, visitors can enjoy dog sledding.  Nemacolin also boasts an impressive collection of 15 restaurants and lounges, including the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond, Lautrec as well as a multi-million dollar art collection.  For meetings and events, Nemacolin offers 32,000 square feet of meeting and banquet facilities including three ballrooms, a 200-seat lecture hall and 25 meeting rooms - making Nemacolin the ideal setting for functions ranging from weddings to sales meetings.  For those guests arriving by air, our on-property private airfield with 3,900-foot airstrip is available.  For additional information, please visit our website at or call 866-399-6957.  Gambling Problem?  Call 1-800-Gambler.

International Chili Society (ICS)

Founded in 1967, the International Chili Society is an organization that sanctions nearly 200 chili cookoffs each year that are governed by ICS rules and regulations and a blind judging process. These events are worldwide and benefit charities or non-profit organizations. Local winners of ICS sanctioned cookoffs qualify to compete for cash prizes and awards throughout the year. Top-level winners compete for a total prize package of $55,000 at the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff held each year in October. One million spectators a year participate in ICS events by cooking, tasting, judging and having a good time. Sanctioned cookoffs include three categories: Traditional Red Chili, Chili Verde (green chili) and Salsa. The ICS crowns a World Champion in each category.



Wild Willies Regional Cookoff 5/31/2014


         3d Place - Larry Bulla
         2d place -  Jill Goldberg
        1st place - Alexis Jensen

Chili Verde

         5th Place - Mike Usiak
         4th Place -Jill Goldberg
          3d Place - Larry Bulla
          2d Place - Lynn Kost Virant
         1st Place - Bruce Brown

Red Chili

          5th Place - Mary Cannon
          4th Place - Judy Ellis
          3d Place - Jim Weller
          2d Place - Mike Usiak
         1st Place - Dave Ellis

Nebraska State Championship Cookoff 6/1/2014


        3d Place - Judie Ellis
        2d Place - Julie Brown
        1st Place - Jill Goldberg

Chile Verde

        5th Place - Mike Usiak
        4th Place - Julie Brown
        3d Place - Jim Weller
        2d Place - Jill Goldberg
       1st Place - Steffie Olechnowicz

Red Chili

          5th Place - Steffie Olechnowicz
          4th Place - Bruce Brown
          3d Place - Larry Bulla
          2d Place - George Rives
         1st Place - Mike Usiak


It was a perfect day for a chili cookoff in Tustin.  There were close to 40,000 people in attendance tasting over 60 different bowls of chili.  Unfortunately we only had 15 ICS competitors, so this cookoff will remain a district.  The three additional entrances into the site made it much easier for the cooks to enter and depart, plus there were additional parking lots open so the cooks could park closer to their booths than ever before.  The city of Tustin does a remarkable job organizing and coordinating this incredibly huge event making everything run very efficiently.

We would like to give a special thanks to Bill and Karen Ray for once again driving the long distance to assist us in this event as assistant judge and scorekeeper.  Their expertise and experience is very much appreciated.  Dennis and Bill also helped Karen and I with scorekeeping.  Great job, guys!   Many thanks to Tony & Karen Angotti, Mike Hulka, and Red Brecke for coming out to judge and help where needed.  As always, it was wonderful to have Dave & Carol Hancock there to cheer us on.

And the winners were:

Salsa (10 entries)

1st - Karen Angotti

Red Chili (15 entries)

4th Place Honorable Mention – Clark McGee and Rosie Taylor

3rd Place – Skip Cooley

2nd Place – Jim Watson

1st Place – Paul Sauerhammer

Hope to see you all next year! Let’s try to get this cook-off back to a regional status.

Dennis and Allene Macklin

Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff Set for June 7, Class Offers to Teach Rookies the Ropes


check out this link -


You still have a few days left to register for the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff in Wheeling, WV! Never been to Wheeling? Check out “Concert in the Kitchen” with Chef Charlie Schlegel and Head Chili Judge Brian Warmuth to learn more about what our event has to offer for our cooks!

More information: – or – 304.234.3636

(Source: chilicookoff)



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